Quest for a Culture of Life in America with Steve Koob

Steve Koob, founder and executive director of One More Soul, hosts a weekly program in which he interviews some of the people making a significant contribution to the Culture of Life. The hope and prayer is that Radio Maria listeners will be inspired by these guests, and will find ways that they too can foster a Culture of Life in their community, Church, and family.

May 05, 2015 – Roy Schoeman–Catholic Liturgy’s Roots in Judaism Liturgy

Radio Maria listeners may already be well acquainted with Roy Schoeman who hosts “Salvation is from the Jews”, educating listeners on the many foundational connections between Judaism and Catholicism.  He is a convert from orthodox Judaism to Catholicism.  His fascinating conversion story and information about his book Salvation is from the Jews may be found at
Roy was born in a suburb of New York City of “Conservative” Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany.  His Jewish education and formation was received under some of the most prominent Rabbis in contemporary American Jewry, including Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, probably the foremost Conservative Rabbi in the U.S. and his hometown Rabbi growing up. His secular education included a B.Sc. from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard Business School. Midway through a career of teaching and consulting (he had been appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Business School) he experienced an unexpected and instantaneous conversion to Christianity which led to a dramatic refocus of his activities. Since then he has pursued theological studies at several seminaries, helped produce and host a Catholic Television talk show, and edited and written for several Catholic books and reviews.  
This week’s program is intended to acquaint us with the Jewish religious beliefs and practices, especially those that form the basis/model for much of what we recognize as Catholic Liturgy and rituals. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) this is very important, “A better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy”(CCC 1096).*
We will also be talking about From the Kippah to the Cross, A Jew’s Conversion to Catholicism, by  Jean-Marie Elie Setbon, Ignatius Press, 2015, which I found to be exceptionally captivating and educating.  For example, I did not realize:
  • there were so many varieties of Judaism–not unlike Christianity, and even Catholicism with its many Rites;
  • Jews so hated (not too strong a word, it seems) a convert to Catholicism–not unlike the Muslims;
  • God could be so persistent and patient in hunting for one of His lost sheep;
  • there was a Jewish process for finding one’s spouse–somewhere between arranged marriage and speed-dating;
  • “Judaism and Christianity”–the concluding chapter–have so much in common yet are still so far apart.
I highly recommend it, so do your Catholic bookstore a favor and order from them.

This program’s principle purpose is to understand the Jewish roots of the Liturgy–Mass.  Ancient peoples recognized a higher power that needed to be pleased/honored/worshiped/thanked/feared for their well-being.  I presume that the Jewish Liturgy rests on that foundation and is a bridge to the Catholic Liturgy.  

I’ll be asking Roy to teach us:

  • how Jewish Tradition and Torah defined the first Century Catholic Mass;
  • the commonality between Jewish rituals and Mass rituals;
  • what (if anything) has been lost (and gained?) during two Millennia of Liturgical development.
My intense interest in the Liturgy is a recent phenomenon, but precipitated by a comment from friend and Oby/Gyn Dr Lorna Cvetkovitch, a dozen years ago, “If we don’t get the Liturgy right , we will never have a Culture of life”. 
I am very eager to learn what Roy believes is needed to have the Liturgy be “right”?  I pray you are too!

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April 28, 2015 – Human Life International is leading the pro-life/family/marriage. How are they doing?

Fr Shenan Bouquet has been at the helm of Human Life International (HLI) for almost four years.  Why did he get tapped to lead this premier international apostolate by traveling around the world spreading the Gospel of Life as HLI’s president? He was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011.
Fr. Boquet has already traveled nearly 500,000 miles to 26 countries, speaking at numerous international conferences.  He probably has had hundreds of interesting experiences in very diverse cultures that share our common Faith.  I am looking forward to asking him many questions, like:
·         Please give us some examples of the work you and your US staff do to support in-country pro-life efforts.  Please share some good news from the major areas of the world where HLI is making a difference.
·         Our government is promoting contraception, abortion, sterilization, same-sex “marriage” at home and abroad–the complete opposite of the teachings of the Catholic Church and the ministry of HLI.  Can you share some examples of US Government efforts and HLI’s counter efforts?  Who wins in these encounters?
·         Catholics and other Christians are being persecuted in some way in most parts of the world–including the USA.  How does that persecution affect your efforts to promote a Culture of Life?  Are your people at risk in Africa and the Middle East from Islamic terrorists?
·         In his encyclical Ecclesiam suam, Pope Saint Paul VI encouraged dialogue with all peoples including Muslims, granting Islam a comparable stature to Christianity and Judaism.  Popes John Paul II and Francis (and Benedict XVI?) have also reached out to the Muslims.  I suspect that some/many of our listeners are confused by this courting of a religion that is (and throughout history, has been) so often extremely hostile to Christians.  How does HLI deal with this seeming disparity?
·         We have had a series of Guests on this program discussing Liturgy–promoting a reform of the reform that followed VCII.  Msgr Ignacio Barrerio, Executive Director of the HLI Rome Office, made a case for a connection between Liturgical reform and the Defense of Human Life.  Do you find more traditional forms of the Liturgy prevalent in some of the countries you visit?  Do you see a stronger pro-life culture in those countries?  Is Mass celebrated ad orientum common in any country you know of?
·         The Conclusion to Msgr Barrerio’s Sacra Liturgia 2013 paper, “Sacred Liturgy and the Defense of Human Life”, was sooo encouraging in the eventual acceptance of God’s Truth and the consequent demise of the Culture of Death. Give us signs of hope!

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April 21, 2015 – Our Liturgy Series continues

Q.  Why are we having so many Guests on the Liturgy? 
A.  Because the FIRST GREAT COMMANDMENT says,  “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’38“This is the great and foremost commandment. (Matt 22:37-38)
Also, the Church commands us to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass–the Liturgy–on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation.  How we worship our God matters.  Our worship of God should be as perfect as humanly possible.  And so our Quest is for that most perfect Liturgy, and we look to Liturgists (students of Liturgy) for guidance.
Another reason is the oft quoted statement from Vatican Council II, “The Eucharist [Liturgy] is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.'(LG11)”(CCC1324)
Dom Alcuin Reid is one of the foremost experts on the Liturgy in the world today. He is a monk of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France. After studies in Theology and in Education in Melbourne, Australia, he was awarded a PhD from King’s College, University of London, for a thesis on twentieth century liturgical reform (2002), which was subsequently published as ‘The Organic Development of the Liturgy’ with a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Ignatius, 2005; trans. ‘Lo sviluppo organico della Liturgia’, Cantagalli, 2013). 
Dom Alcuin is at the center of the new liturgical movement called for by Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), promoting an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s call for liturgical reform within a hermeneutic of continuity, a critical assessment of its implementation and of the need for a reform of the reform. 

Dom Alcuin was the principal organizer of Sacra Liturgia 2013, the international conference on the role liturgical formation and celebration in the life and mission of the Church in Rome in June 2013 and edited its proceedings ‘Sacred Liturgy: The Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church’ (Ignatius, 2014).  
He is one of the principal organizers of Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 Conference in NYC, June 1-4 and will be telling us why this event is so important.

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April 14, 2015 – How to spend “Nine Months with Jesus in Mary’s Womb”

Josh Danis is the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Family and Respect Life Office Coordinator for the Northern Area of the diocese. In that position he has authored an exciting new program for helping all Christians appreciate the dignity of each human brother and sister.  His program draws our attention to Jesus the God-fetus during the 9 months He lived within Mary.

This initiative develops over 9 months from the Incarnation to the Nativity– March 25th to December 25th.  The materials are available at the Archdiocesan web site–  and include:
  • A “Dear Jesus of the Womb” prayer card with a depiction of Jesus in the womb on the other side.  How can you recognize the baby as Jesus?  (See PS for the answer.)
  • A monthly reflection on Jesus’ physical development tied to a Biblical story and a current situation where the dignity of human life is not universally accepted.
  • A brief bulletin announcement for each week of the month.
Parishes are encouraged to purchase the prayer cards and distribute them at every opportunity, publish the Monthly Reflection one weekend of the month, and include the bulletin announcement each week.  The primary purpose of this Respect Life Campaign is to foster prayer for a universal appreciation of the dignity of life at all stages and conditions.
Please join Josh and me to learn more about this innovative and non-controversial approach to protecting vulnerable children, women and men.  I am eager to learn what 9 issues are featured in this Prayer Campaign and how well it is being received throughout the Archdiocese of  Cincinnati.  It seems like it is a program that can be easily adapted to other dioceses.

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March 24, 2015 – Fr Joseph Fessio, SJ

Father Fessio  has many significant accomplishments to his credit.  He has gone from Civil Engineering student to study and teach philosophy and theology as a Jesuit priest. He is an igniter and leader having founded Campion College of San Francisco, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, The Catholic World Report and Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.  He has been a guide for Ave Maria University as Chancellor, Provost and Theologian in Residence.
I want to get his opinion on many controversies in today’s Church and society:

  • The Liturgy–where is it headed?
  • AD of San Francisco teacher contracts–too far or not far enough?
  • Personhood Amendments that focus on natural law rather than judicial overreach–do they have a chance?
  • Pope Francis–innovative, unfocused, dangerous?
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict–how has he changed from when he was your major professor for theology doctorate to reigning and resigning pope?
  • Cardinals: Burke, Kaspar, Pell, and others regarding reception of Holy communion for those in irregular relationships?
  • Catholic press and media–how are Ignatius Press and other publishers doing?

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March 10, 2015 – “Physician Assisted Suicide”–yet another “right” to murder?!

Dana Cody serves as President and Executive Director of California based Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF).  On a daily basis she and her legal staff are embroiled in abortion, ObamaCare, assisted suicide and other threats to life of innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children. LLDF supports their advocates in a variety of our nation’s courtrooms.
Brittany Maynard’s very public assisted suicide in Oregon, and the Canadian Supreme Court’s recent (Feb 9, 2015) strike-down of Canada Law against assisted suicide, has emboldened the activists to introduce “Physician Assisted Suicide Laws” in 14 states–following Oregon, Washington and Vermont.
These laws vary from state to state.  What are the major differences among them?  Have any been tested before the US Supreme Court?  Does the process eventually lead to a national decision on what can be done, under what circumstances, and by whom?
It seems to me that there are fine lines between use of pain prevention medication and intentionally using medications to cause death and thus relieve pain. The ethics and morality of individual cases can be very complex.  I believe that Dana will be able to help us understand these complexities.

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March 03, 2015 – Simon IS my name–I’ll be your Guest on Radio Maria today!

Simon Crosier had a relatively short life—less than three months outside his mother’s womb. He had Trisomy 18 (also known as Edward’s Syndrome). In spite of his short life, Simon’s fame is growing because: a) his short life touched many others, b) his mom and brothers wrote two books about him, c) the State of Missouri Legislature is naming a law after him, and d) he represents all life-limited children

Simon is our Guest today on “The Quest for a Culture of Life in America”.  He will be represented by Sheryl Crosier, his mother, who continues to love him deeply and be his support though her love and concern for the other Simons by serving on the Board of Directors for SOFT—Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and related disorders.

Sheryl authored the book I Am Not A Syndrome-My Name Is Simon which was published in August 2012. She also authored the children’s book, Hello, My Name Is Simon as told by Samuel and Sean Crosier, Simon’s big brothers, published in October 2014.
You can learn more about Sheryl, Simon, her books, and media interviews at
Sheryl will be joined by Anne Schmiesing the author of a recently published One More Soul pamphlet, “Hard Cases Close to Home” that briefly describes how three families in Western Ohio dealt with their Simon-like life experiences.
Please join us today to gain a new appreciation for the gift of life, and learn how Simon—and children like him—change the culture, one life at a time.

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February 24, 2015 – Why does a government agency–FDA–approve poison for its citizens?

Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D. has been teaching at the university level for over fifty years, including 31 years as a professor of English at Simpson College in Iowa.   He still loves to write and teach, now part-time at various schools in New Hampshire. I would say that some of his books indicate a  Philosopher orientation, for example, The Lost Arts of Modern CivilizationModern Manners: The Poetry of Conduct and The Virtue of Civility, and The Virtues We Need Again. He came to my attention as one of the Senior Writers for Human life International’s Truth and Freedom Series, for which he recently penned “Legalized Poisons: The New Organization of Life”–which is the source for this week’s “Quest for a Culture of Life in America” program on Radio Maria.

Is it safe to presume that most adult Americans are taking at least one Food & Drug Administration approved prescription “drug”.  And, is it not also true that every one of these prescriptions is accompanied by a lengthy printout of directions, warnings, and instructions for what to do IF you overdose, or under-dose (miss a prescribed taking of pill), or what ever.  These hand outs also are very likely to state, “as with all medications, Pill XYZ may have side effects that could become serious.  Watch for these rare but possible conditions that may or may not be consequential to taking this medication.  Your physician (or other provider) has determined that the intended benefits of this prescription outweigh their  potential harm”–or other words to the same effect.

Okay, that is fair enough when what is being prescribed has been tested on animals and then humans and found to cure or diminish disease, reduce pain and suffering, and prolong life or improve the quality of life–with relatively minor “side effects”.

But how do “medications” that have the purpose of fostering unhealthy behaviors get into the mix? and with what consequences?Consider Hormonal birth control methods that reduce pregnancy and birth rates by contraception and abortion–both intrinsically evil by the teaching of the Catholic Church and Natural Law. Limiting birth rates is hard to justify as a legitimate health purpose, given that conception/pregnancy/birth are natural consequences of marital intimacy and conform to God’s desire that we by fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.  There are a multitude of health benefits to birthing and nurturing children, and a similar multitude of health risks consequent to the use of birth control.

So, why do we use birth control, and why do government agencies encourage it, and what does our Church have to say about it???

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